- BD will sell 750,000 SARS-CoV-2 antigen test kits and 2,000 of its Veritor Plus systems that the tests run on to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the company said Wednesday, with distribution set to commence next week.
- The government order followed FDA granting emergency use authorization to the new BD test in early July. Amid proliferation of PCR and antibody tests for the novel coronavirus, BD's antigen test was just the second of its kind available in the U.S. White House Coronavirus Task Force testing lead Brett Giroir has promoted the potential usefulness of the tests, also produced by Quidel. The tests detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus within minutes, though come with a higher rate of false negatives than standard tests.
- The order comes as the agency on Tuesday laid out an effort to speed COVID-19 testing in nursing homes in hotspot regions. HHS described the initiative as a large-scale, one-time procurement of FDA-authorized rapid point-of-care diagnostic test instruments and tests themselves.
The administration is taking new steps to expand the reach of rapid point-of-care tests among some of the nation's most vulnerable individuals: nursing home residents.
HHS said each prioritized nursing home will receive one testing instrument plus tests. The distribution may open up new customer lines for companies like BD, with the agency specifying that nursing homes will have to procure further tests directly from manufacturers after the initial supply is exhausted.
"Nursing homes must have the capability to screen and test residents, and test staff on a weekly basis or according to specific guidance by the state and local health departments," the HHS announcement said. "This procurement will also enable testing of visitors if appropriate for that facility."
Outside of diagnostics, other parts of BD's business like its surgery division have suffered during the pandemic due to the deferral of elective procedures. Likewise, the COVID-19 crisis is boosting still another area of BD's business. Last week, BARDA and the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense tapped BD to expand its manufacturing of syringes and safety needles in conjunction with U.S. vaccine development effort Operation Warp Speed.
"Once the capacity to produce at least 300 million safety needles and syringe units per year is achieved, the U.S. government’s private sector partners will receive priority in purchasing syringes and needles for COVID-19 medical countermeasures, including vaccines," the HHS announcement said.
Just how those businesses, and others, have balanced each other out during COVID-19 will be on display when BD presents quarterly results on Aug. 6.